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Late Realisation

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US President Donald Trump, after having been allowed to function unfettered in domestic and international politics, has finally begun to come up against reality. The first realisation must have struck when his loose talk on mediation at a meeting with Pakistan’s Imran Khan could be seen as having precipitated the withdrawal of Article 370 in India. He had to overcome his ego and correct his mistake when he basically accepted India’s position during an interaction with PM Narendra Modi. Now, in a not unrelated matter, he has done a u-turn on an agreement with the Taliban – something that had been opposed by most of his generals and the diplomatic establishment, as well as the Afghan Government. Once again, India’s approach to the region’s strategic environment has been vindicated. Trump is focused largely on his election promise of recalling US troops from every foreign field of battle. It is a laudable objective and there is no doubt that the Americans have needlessly interfered in the internal affairs of other countries ever since the task of globo-cop fell on them. Too often, it has led to a worsening of the situation. This applies to Afghanistan, as well, where the US armed and backed religious fundamentalists just because they were fighting the Soviets. Now, the world is reaping the whirlwind. However, a withdrawal now would mean accepting that they have been defeated by the Taliban, which would further encourage religious extremism in the entire region. One need only hear the rhetoric in Pakistan these days, where public opinion is being whipped up for a war against India ‘to the last man, the last bullet and the last breath’. The incentive offered is a place in ‘Jannat’, of course, to the children of the masses and the unfortunate beneficiaries of the jihad, the Kashmiris. The children of the elite are away in western lands enjoying the benefits of a developed society and, indeed, a secular dispensation. As in the case of the Kashmiri terrorists who have no qualms about killing their own people, the Taliban have blown up many more Afghans than they have eliminated foreigners. It is a self- destructive philosophy based purely on the ability to strike terror in everybody’s hearts through indiscriminate violence. This seems to have finally been understood by Trump after the blast in Kabul that also killed a US soldier, even though a deal was ready to be sealed at a secret meeting in Camp David just a week later. This setback for the Taliban and their Pakistani backers will reinforce India’s position, which seeks to condemn terrorism in all its forms, no matter what the justification.